By Laura MacKay
vision-to-action process is led by community-based experts and caring citizens
on 17 task forces who continue to recommend insightful actions which respond to
challenging questions. Questions like, how do we continue to foster a sense of
place and promote well-being for the people that live, work and play here? How
do we ensure that Whistler residents are continuously engaged in the shared journey
These questions and others have
prompted an innovative process leap. While the Whistler2020 process has been
hosted by the municipality, it has also, from the beginning, been jointly
managed with partners throughout the community — businesses and
organizations, as well as individual citizens. Responding in part to the
recommendations of eight separate task forces, the opportunity to deepen
partner involvement is now emerging in the Whistler Centre for Sustainability,
an enterprising non-profit created with seed funding from the Resort
Municipality of Whistler. The vision of the Centre is to accelerate the journey toward a sustainable future within
Whistler and beyond. Focusing on sustainability for communities, tourism and
events, the Centre will deliver consulting built on proven strategic planning
services and operational solutions. In time, it will become a centre of
excellence for sustainability in Whistler and beyond.
The Board of Directors of the
Whistler Centre for Sustainability held their inaugural meeting June 30, the
day before the Canada Day holiday. This dynamic and committed group established
their internal structure and turned to their first items of business. The
meeting room was filled with the energy of a long-awaited moment coming to
One of the first tasks for the
Board was the recruitment of an Executive Director, a process that brought
Cheeying Ho, Executive Director of Smart Growth B.C. to the position. She
brings an extraordinary amount of capacity and proven sustainability
connections to our community. The establishment of program areas is also of
primary importance, building service offerings that leverage core community
expertise in community sustainability planning, as well as co-creating programs
designed to expand opportunity for integrated sustainability planning
throughout Whistler’s responsible tourism and events sectors. A recent meeting
of over 20 event planners demonstrated consolidated support for deepening a
commitment to event-oriented sustainability actions and tools.
The Centre will leverage
international exposure as the Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and
Paralympic Winter Games. Familiarizing broadcast and media organizations with
Whistler’s community-wide commitment to sustainability will ensure that our
unique stories emerge through the lens of world attention in 2010. This
invaluable coverage will reach and attract new visitors aligned with the
growing responsible tourism market, visitors that support and contribute to Whistler’s
journey toward a sustainable future.
As mass consciousness shifts toward
sustainability, and so many people worldwide are
, the Whistler Centre for Sustainability is
well-positioned to emerge as a thought leader, credibly navigating the blooming
greenwash in the marketplace. It’s an incredible time for a group of committed
citizens and organizations to collaboratively offer what they have learned and
also learn from other networks. As the Centre becomes a hub in the journey
toward a sustainable future, other communities are watching as we field-test a
new model of collaborative leadership.
On a personal level, Tourism
whistler energy. plug in”
campaign successfully caught my eye and imagination. In my mind it could refer
to our resort community’s renewable energy for engaging champions along a
journey toward sustainability locally, regionally, and beyond. Whether or not I
am right about the intention of the campaign, I continue to be inspired by the
conversations about renewable, sustainable engagement along Whistler’s bike
paths and hiking trails.
The time is now. As the Centre
emerges as a focal point for continued community engagement along the journey
toward sustainability, you are invited to contribute your thoughts and participation
to shape the Centre’s future.
Laura MacKay works with the
Resort Municipality of Whistler as the Whistler2020 Manager of Community
For more information about
the Centre, visit
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